One of the oldest inhabited cities in the country, the city of Bizerte is located 65 km north of Tunis. While the city’s ambitions are currently focused on Tunisia’s smart city program, it does not have a digital transformation plan.
In this context, the municipality wished to participate in the ASToN program in order to support the continuous improvement of the quality of life of its citizens, including in its way of carrying out cleaning and waste disposal activities. The expansion of the city limits and the exponential increase in its size have called into question the existing approach to waste management. An improvement in the quality of services would be measurable through cleaner neighborhoods, a better understanding of citizens’ needs and a better degree of satisfaction with municipal waste disposal services.
Bizerte in figures
- Population: 167 759 inhabitants
- Surface area: 46 km²
- Population density: 3 646/km²
- Local authority budget: 25.580 million DT / $8.844 million
- Smartphone penetration rate: 20 à 40%
- Internet access rate: 40 à 60%
What does the city mean by “smart city”?
For Bizerte, a smart city would use “digital or all tech to make the lives of our people easy”, and be a city that was clean and modern.
Ideas of the smart city in Bizerte go beyond simply using smart technology. They describe a situation where technology has changed what the city looks like and how it acts.
Bizerte’s chosen policy area is City Cleanliness
The municipality of Bizerte aims for continuous improvement in the quality of life of its citizens, including in how it conducts cleanliness activities and waste disposal. Recently, however, the extension of municipal boundaries – including into peri-urban and rural areas – has challenged the existing approach to waste management. Specifically, the overall size of the municipal boundary has quadrupled, which adds difficulty in the monitoring of garbage collection vehicles, the amount of “black spots” in service provision, and the satisfaction levels of citizens.
Central to these issues is the lack of internal communication between members of the Department for Cleanliness, as well as external communication with citizens. An improvement in service quality would be measurable by cleaner neighbourhoods and a greater understanding of citizen needs and satisfaction levels towards municipal waste disposal.
Findings: the starting point for addressing these problems
The following findings set out the starting point for Bizerte as they work to address waste management and city cleanliness. Based on research conducted over the course of Phase 1, they describe the interlinked strengths and challenges that need to be taken into account.
There is a shared enthusiasm for digital projects that should be harnessed to create a clear strategy for digital transformation
It is clear that the ASToN lead & mayor all have a shared belief in the role of digital solutions in the city, and a dedication to the improvement of the quality of life of its citizens. Additionally, the ASToN Local Group is motivated and has confidence in each of their abilities. However, while there are already many projects going on within the city, there is no one global vision or plan of action for the city to align with. A shared strategy can help the city start small and build towards the big issues they wish to address, and an associated plan of action can be used to solicit important funding from elsewhere.
Bizerte understands the important role of data and wants to capitalise on it
While Bizerte has identified Clean City Waste as their theme, there was a clear and demonstrated interest in exploring data for digital transformation, within the chosen policy area and beyond. City authorities have a strong understanding of the value of data and have successful experience using GIS, for example.
There exists solid infrastructure with room for improvement in digital solutions
At the national level, Tunisia is strongly oriented towards digital solutions, with cheap networks and fast data speeds. The municipality also has a good level of computer equipment. However, though digital tools are used these are not always reliable, and members of the local authority have said that internal systems must be improved. Areas of interest could be an improvement in electronic document management, electronic archiving, electronic correspondence, and citizen complaint management.
Citizens have recently gained a more prominent role in decision making, providing opportunity to bring them along the journey
The new Tunisian constitution encourages far greater levels of citizen participation in government activities. However, communicating with citizens and keeping up with technological developments are still challenges for the city authority. There also remains an issue of access to digital technology as it requires citizens to pay for data.
The local ecosystem is not geared towards city needs
Across Tunisia, there is a new regulatory framework and incentives to partner with startups from the national level. However, there are not many startups operating in Bizerte, meaning it may be hard for the local authority to find local implementing partners.
More could be done to harness multi-stakeholder partnerships and to secure funding
Bizerte struggles with projects that are complex and multi-stakeholder in format, and have often not been able to successfully present projects to potential funders.